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REVIEW: Korg Monologue synthesizer

REVIEW: Korg Monologue synthesizer

Korg aficionados, synth heads and instrument enthusiasts will already be familiar with Korg’s product release schedule this year, with the Monologue following hot on the heels of their best selling, four voice analog synth, the Minilogue.

Sharing the same aesthetic, Monologue is a monophonic analog synth with an emphasis on getting deep and dirty with its knob, button and switch-laden interface.

First thing to note are the keys – 25 of them positioned in an E to E layout, rather than the traditional C to C layout. The Monologue sets out its stall very quickly; this is a bass and lead beast, with as much appeal to guitarists and bass players looking to throw some sexy synth sounds into their live sets as it would synth purists.

The build quality is excellent, and there’s a choice of five different brushed aluminium colour options to choose from including black, red, gold, silver and blue. Our unit came in gold, and a mighty fine looking thing it was, too. A really nice touch was the wooden backplate, which stood out nicely against the gold interface colour.
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The Monologue is truly aimed at the live performer, weighing in at just under 4lbs and the added ability to run on batteries (six AA batteries) in what the company claims will offer six to eight hours performance, making this an extremely portable synth. There are also 100 programs with 80 presets, with enough space left over to fill when creating your stage setlist. The presets included are brilliant and it comes as no surprise to find out that Richard D. James, AKA Apex Twin, had a hand in shaping them, along with another useful and interesting feature, the micro tuning system. This offers separate tuning of each note, ideal for playing music outside of the conventional Western musical scale, with 12 user-saveable scale locations provided.

There’s a 9v input located on the back of the unit should you wish to use the optional-extra adaptor, plus the usual MIDI in/out, audio and headphone out and USB connectivity. There’s also a SYNC in/out which will allow the unit to play in time with other Korg products, such as the Minilogue, Electribes, Volca, etc. Monologue can also be used as a MIDI controller keyboard for your preferred DAW, or triggered from another MIDI controller.

The synth is powered by two Voltage Controlled Oscillators (VCO1 and VCO2) offering four waves to choose from – Square, Triangle, Sawtooth and Noise. VCO2 offers Octave, Sync, Ring Modulation, Pitch and Shape to shape each wave. All the controls are very sturdy knobs and sliders, allowing you to manipulate the sound in realtime, which is extremely enjoyable if you’ve been confined to mixing inside the box of late.

The filter section on the Monologue is pretty amazing too, with a brand new 2-pole Voltage Controlled Filter and an analog Drive circuit that certainly delivers. The LFO has also been updated and benefits from three different modes allowing Fast, Slow or 1-Shot options that produce fantastic tonal qualities. Bringing the Drive in on a sound and playing with the filter settings is both exhilarating and mesmeric. I literally sat for hours playing with these settings, before my wife started getting calls from the neighbours asking what time the rave finished.

There’s also a 16 step sequencer featuring individual buttons for ease of editing across the front of the interface that can be used to create complex rhythms and patterns, with motion sequencing and editing also included, meaning extra real-time twiddling opportunities. All of the presets come with a sequence pattern.

This ‘hands on’ approach to the filters, envelope settings and VCO settings allows the user to explore sounds and tones in a really creative, in-depth way, producing endless tonal possibilities. There’s also a really useful Hold button that, when pressed once, triggers the sequence to the corresponding note pressed on the keyboard. Pressing the Hold button for more than two seconds allows real-time adjustments of the sequence as it plays, giving the user the ability to use both hands when tweaking filters and similar.

Monologue is a competitively-priced monophonic synth that more than bridges the gap between vintage analog synths (Roland SH-101) and modern contemporaries twice the cost. Its sleek good looks and colour options lend itself well to the stage. However it’s equally at home adorning desks in a studio. Couple this with the stunning sounds on offer, and the Monologue takes Korg’s revered monophonic heritage and blazes it into the 21st Century and beyond.

The Monologue synthesizer is available from Korg in mid January 2017and comes with an RRP of £299.

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Tags: korg , synthesizer , Reviews , monologue

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